Review
DaGeDar

By Jorge Figueiredo - February 9th, 2012

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Do you like playing with balls? If you do, then GameMill Entertainment’s DaGeDar would be right up your alley! Euphemisms aside, DaGeDar is essentially a fun little racing game for the Nintendo DS. With intuitive controls, a decent number of levels and plenty of unlockable “vehicles”, Dagedar is worth the price – if you can find it*.

I have to admit that I was initially skeptical about this game; this feeling was similar to my original inklings about the Pok√©mon franchise (which were inevitably arrested). The idea that was presented via marketing material didn’t really sway me at all – so much so that I delegated this to someone else in an attempt to maintain objectivity. Due to some setbacks, though, I ended up acquiring this again to make sure that we could let you know how it played. I stand corrected in the face of my initial prejudice.

The main premise of this side-scrolling racing game is to guide your spherical character (a DaGeDar) along the one of the thirty mind-bending tracks in a race against an opponent (which may include time, if you wish). During the race, the player must be careful to avoid traps while attempting to take advantage of objects that loan speed to the their character (such as cannons – they launch the racers in a specific direction with great velocity). If the opponent is a fellow DaGeDar -rather than the clock- the player will have to bear in mind that the opposing racer will have access to all of the same benefits as they do; this loans a little bit of strategy to the mix.

Each DaGeDar (there are over a hundred) is unique in appearance and has three important attributes: speed, acceleration and control. The level of each attribute is different for every DaGeDar, allowing for advantages on certain tracks. For instance, a track with a lot of odd, non-linear sections of track would most likely call for a highly maneuverable DaGeDar with a good rate of acceleration; a track that is made up of longer stretches without too much deviation would suit a DaGeDar that has speed in spades.

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At times you will find yourself going in odd directions. I would suggest riding roller coasters to practice.

You can choose to play Championship Mode (the campaign), in which you visit courses on each planet; each course is made up of five races (five different tracks). You must win the majority of the races against your opponent to attain that region’s DaGeDar for your own collection. Winning races also unlocks new tracks to race on. If besting your own time is your bag, you can pick “Time Attack”, where you simply race on your own against the clock to beat the posted time; doing well in Time Attack also comes with its own share of unlocks, thus distributing the share of booty between different modes.

There is also Practice Mode, in which you can attempt races on your own time to perfect your technique for each particular track; this is very handy as the track layouts can be fairly hard to grasp – even after two or three laps (things move pretty damned fast). Multi-player Mode allows the usual DS shenanigans: join a game; host a game; or use the Download Play feature to share your cart with those that don’t have one.

Graphics are simple and colourful, and contribute to the overall feeling of great speed without choppiness. Each mechanism of the track (whether good or bad) has its own distinct colour – so even at the crazy speeds at which you may travel, you can easily make out these features. Whether you have the reaction time to take advantage of them is something you can blame on nature and nurture. Sound effects, while not disappointing, are not overly impressive – needless to say, they get the job done and actually don’t grate on your nerves like other games of this type. The music is very much techo-like, which suits the futuristic setting of this game. Thumping “bass” matches the intensity of the races, so there are definitely no complaints about the music.

Controls are fairly intuitive; it may take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the control scheme which involves the D-Pad and two buttons – but once you realize how everything works it is smooth sailing. You have control over left and right direction, jumping and usage of the turbo feature. Turbo is recharged by picking up energy throughout the race (regenerated every lap) and depletes as you use it – so keep it charged!

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Pro Tip: Going 0 MPH will not help you win any races.

Lest you be lulled into a false sense of security by the description thus far, it is only fair to warn you that this game is not the easiest one in the world. It is my impression that DaGeDar is meant for a younger audience – one that might be frustrated with the difficulty level. Personally, I found it tough enough to be mildly challenging while remaining a fun experience overall. Kids are twitchy anyway, and will most likely enjoy the game immensely.

I never expected to like DaGeDar as much as I did. What started out as mild dread towards a weird “collectible racers” game became more than a mild obsession with trying to win every single race while collecting new “vehicles”. I have to hand it to GameMill – they have made a pretty awesome product in DaGeDar. My only beef? It’s hard to find these carts in Canada.

* – In Canada, anyway.

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